When creating a new WordPress site, there are two ways I go about it:
- Build the site live on the client’s domain (example.com)
- Build the site on a test site (example.eightdeuce.com or eightdeuce.com/example)
Build the Site Live
I have done many websites this way and haven’t had any problems. Actually, it’s a little easier but it’s probably not the best idea, for a couple reasons:
- If I’m building the site on the client’s domain, their site is basically live. I could get all the content up there and the site is pretty much finished. They could come back with small changes over a long period of time, but really, the site has been done and live and has been working well for people viewing the site.
- I put my name at the bottom of all the sites I do, so if I’m building it live, a visitor checks the site out early on and sees a lot of unfinished areas, they might see my name and think I’m a bad web designer. It’s best to wait until it’s 100% done to launch before I put my name on it.
I’m ok with this approach if they need the site done under a very tight deadline, or they paid for everything upfront, or if I really trust the client. With that all said, I don’t have to worry about downtime when going this route. When switching WordPress URLs from a test site to the real domain name, there can be a transition period. I actually just did this today and it wasn’t an immediate transition. In most cases it’s less than an hour, sometimes instant, but it can take a few hours or maybe longer depending on the hosting company, the type of servers, the domain registrar, etc.
Sometimes I’ll build it live if I’m doing a site for a new company or someone that has never had a site before, or they just purchased a new domain name. In these cases, almost no one will be going to that website, so who cares if it’s not completed just yet? This happens a lot actually.
Build a Test Site
Although I don’t always choose this option, I think it’s the best way to go. Here’s why:
- It keeps the non-finished website out of view from normal site visitors. If the client has a current website and I’m doing a redesign, it’s best to keep the old site up and live until the new one is ready to be launched.
- The customer will want the new site finished soon. Let’s face it, everyone wants everything ASAP. So if I get it done on time, that’s great, set it live! BUT WAIT… what if they haven’t paid me yet? If I were building it live, their site would be live regardless. Since I built it on a test site, I can keep it just a test site until they have paid their bill. Nice way to get paid faster, especially if they don’t have a current site up.
- When I do a test site, I create a sub-domain off of my domain (example.eightdeuce.com). This way, everyone will see my name even more. I could buy some random domain like ThisIsMyTestSiteDomainNameOK.com, and create a sub-domain or directory off of that, but I like to keep my site name in front of as many people as I can.
So with that all said, you can now see the pros and cons of both options. There isn’t a right and wrong way, but building on a test site just makes more sense most of the time. But there are always exceptions. Anyways, let me explain how I set one of these test sites up.
Setting Up a WordPress Test Site
For this example, I am using HostGator for my hosting. There are tons of other great hosting companies out there like Bluehost and Media Temple, but I love HostGator. So here we go…
- Login to your HostGator cPanel.
- Under the Domains section, click on Subdomains.
- Type the name you want to use for your sub-domain. Choose something relating to your client.
- Select the domain on your account to be the main domain (I choose eightdeuce.com).
- Hit Create. Now you have your test site url!
- Go back to the main cPanel screen and click on “Fantastico De Luxe” in the Software/Services section.
- Click on WordPress under Blogs on the left.
- Click New Installation.
- Select your test site url from the drop down menu
- Most of the time I install WordPress in the root directory, so you can leave the “Install in directory” box blank.
- Fill out the “Admin access data” and “Base configuration” sections.
- Click Install WordPress.
- Click Finish Installation. Now your WordPress test site is all setup!
Once those quick and painless steps are done, go to your test site url and type “/wp-admin” at the end (example.eightdeuce.com/wp-admin). Then login with your username and password that you just set. Yup, pretty simple! Soon, I will write a post about how to make your test site live, and what to do if you need to move your site to a new server. Thanks for reading and post your comments below if you have any questions or need additional info.
Photo by Sam Catanzaro